"You like Mexican?" she asks. "Great place right there. See it? On your left. They make their own tamales. Indian? Phenomenal Indian on Belmont - five bucks, something like that. All you can eat. Incredible stuff. Want a great sub? Hero's, on North Western. Huge. Good meat. Fantastic place."

Along the way, I work on a theory that the friendliness of a city is directly proportional to the passion its citizenry has for its food. Chicago is Exhibit A - it loves its food, and it is famously friendly. Where else would you get a police escort to a hot dog joint?

I test my theory on other cities. Philly comes to mind. It's a tremendous eating town - the fabled outdoor Ninth Street Italian Market, lusty Italian-American restaurants, conquering street food (cheesesteaks have taken over the world). Then I remember its sports fans - harsh, curt, rude. A lot like the town itself. I say this as a native of the area, and, I might add, with no small degree of hometown pride.

Maybe Philly is an anomaly. I consider the friendliness of the grandest of all food cities: Paris.
Okay, next theory.

Do cities start looking like their food, just like pet owners who come to resemble their dogs?
In Chicago, there is slight variation, but generally speaking, the iconic hot dog is served on a poppy-seed bun and with a slather of mustard, a bit of glow-in-the-dark green relish, onion, a dill-pickle spear, some tomato wedges, a few zesty sport peppers (whatever those are), and a dash of celery salt. The city's equally iconic deep-dish pizza is, classically, a gooey lava of tomato sauce, cheese, sausage, green peppers, mushrooms, and onions. Although, to be sure, more can be added.

This is Big Shoulders food (my apologies to Carl Sandburg).

Chicago, brawny and excessive, looks like its food.